You Should Know:
by Benjamin Lund, Editor,
Dentaltown Magazine sat down with Dr. Beverly Largent, president of Healthy Smiles, Healthy Children, to learn a little about
the Foundation of the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD)
What is Healthy Smiles, Healthy Children?
Largent: Healthy Smiles, Healthy Children's mission
is to support community-based oral health initiatives
providing Dental Homes to children whose families cannot
afford dental care. We do this primarily through our
Access to Care Grants.
Tell us about your current initiatives and how you
are going about implementing them.
Largent: Since the primary focus of the foundation is
to foster access to care for underserved children in the
United States, each summer we accept letters of intent
from organizations seeking matching dollars to achieve our
goal of treating children. Our members, both academic
and practicing dentists, review the letters of intent to determine
which organization will be asked to submit a full
proposal. Once the full proposals are submitted, they are
reviewed by our Grants and Programs Committee, as well
as our Reviewer Subcommittee. The awards are made at
our annual AAPD meeting in May. To date we have
awarded more than $700,000 in access to care grants in 17
states. This important work is embraced by our committee
members who spend many hours reviewing hundreds of
How can general dentists become more involved
with you? What benefits can general dentists
who work on pediatric patients receive from
becoming more involved with you?
Largent: General dentists can certainly become involved
by donating to our foundation. Many individuals feel that
we are supporting services that are worthwhile and know
that if they personally do not have the opportunity to give
services to the underserved, they are participating in charitable
work through the foundation. All programs we support
must have general or pediatric dentist involvement.
What are some of the concerns you hear from
general dentists who see pediatric patients?
Largent: I think the number-one question on everyone's
mind, be it practitioner or foundation, is the shape of
health care going forward. This impact will be on provider,
patient, as well as philanthropic organizations. I hear of the
difficulty in providing care under Medicaid programs,
including reimbursement, and many onerous compliance
regulations. General dentists have voiced a concern about
dealing with the very young child, and incorporating the
age-one dental visit into a general practice.
How do you see the role of "corporate dentistry"
impacting pediatric dentistry as a whole?
Largent: The academy, as well as the foundation, supports
dental care provided according to the established
guidelines of the academy. Healthy Smiles, Healthy
Children places an important focus on providing a dental
home for children. Ongoing care, where all needs can be
met in a compassionate, family-centered way, providing
emergency care and directing advanced care is our goal.
Can you speak to the gender split (male vs. female)
in pediatric dentistry? Do you see a trend of more
female dentists doing more pediatric dentistry?
Largent: I am proud to work in a profession where
there is an almost equal share of both men and women
pediatric dentists (47 percent female to 53 percent male).
The number of female dentists who graduate from residency
continues to increase annually, and I believe this continues
to strengthen our profession.
From an organizational perspective, we have great
members of both genders, and I personally do not view any
difference in the quality, professionalism or knowledge of
male or female members. Pediatric dentistry is a great place
to be, male or female, and this is seen in the continued
growth of our profession.